The Fort Wayne Komets’ 56th season was perhaps its most memorable, thanks to franchise records for victories (56) and points (120), a regular-season championship and the sixth playoff championship in franchise history.
Hoisting the Turner Cup in the early-morning hours Tuesday capped it all.
The following are the top-10 games of the 2007-08 season, as picked by beat writer Justin A. Cohn:
Dec. 29: Komets 9, Flint 1
After getting routed 9-3 by the Generals the previous night, the Komets’ got a hat trick from Colin Chaulk at Memorial Coliseum and left no doubt about their resiliency. It was the turning point of the regular season; the victory started a 40-5-4 run that saw Fort Wayne cruise to the Huber Trophy regular-season championship.
Jan. 13: Komets 3, Port Huron 0
Kevin Reiter became the first goaltender in Fort Wayne history – and there have been some great ones – to record back-to-back-to-back shutouts. This one was a 23-save effort against the Icehawks.
Feb. 1: Komets 5, Flint 0
The Komets, the most penalized team in the IHL, showed their grit and their hatred of the Generals in this game. An early fight between Fort Wayne’s Brent Henley and Flint’s Kris Mallette got things going. There were five misconducts in the game. Fort Wayne got two goals and an assist from master agitator Mitch Woods and a 15-save shutout from goalie Kevin Reiter.
March 28: Komets 4, Kalamazoo 3
Three unanswered goals in the third period, one from P.C. Drouin and two from Luciano Aquino, who had a hat trick, cemented a historic victory. It was the Komets’ 23rd consecutive victory at the Coliseum, establishing a International Hockey League record. Ultimately, the streak would go 25 games, also a franchise record, before being snapped by Flint in the last game of the regular season.
April 9: Komets 4, Muskegon 3
After coughing up a two-goal lead, the Komets won in overtime on a Guy Dupuis slap shot. It was the Komets’ 53rd victory of the regular season, a franchise record. They won three more games. The Komets were 0-4 in games decided in overtime before this victory.
April 18: Komets 1, Muskegon 0
The opening game of the IHL semifinals saw Fort Wayne coach Al Sims get ejected in the second period for berating referee Bob Langdon. But 20 saves by goaltender Kevin Reiter paced the defense. And Colin Chaulk’s ugly, wobbly 18-foot shot beat goalie Isaac Reichmuth 15:13 into overtime for the victory.
April 26: Komets 5, Muskegon 1
It was Game 6 of the IHL semifinals and, finally, the Komets were able to do what they couldn’t in two previous tries – win a playoff game at L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Mich. The Komets got three goals on their first four shots to assert their dominance, led by two goals from Luciano Aquino.
May 8: Komets 4, Port Huron 2
After falling behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven Turner Cup Finals, it seemed the Komets’ dream season would end in disappointment. But a pass from Konstantin Shafranov set up Mathieu Curadeau for the first goal of the night, and the Komets never trailed in the final three games of the playoffs. The key was coach Al Sims’ pregame emphasis to his players that they concentrate on playing great defense and nothing else. It worked out.
May 10: Komets 4, Port Huron 3
McMorran Arena was packed with 3,129 fans, with about 700 Fort Wayne fans making the four-hour trip. The Komets had struggled in the two previous games on the small ice surface, but this time the offense delivered. Left wing Matt Reynolds got it going, 1:30 into the game, with a short-handed breakaway goal, after he stole the puck from Tab Lardner. Terry Marchant and Luciano Aquino also scored for a 3-0 lead and the Komets held on from there, forcing the series back to Fort Wayne for a decisive, historic Game 7.
May 12: Komets 3, Port Huron 2
The greatest game in Komets history, a triple-overtime, Game 7 thriller for the Turner Cup that ended with rookie Justin Hodgman’s goal 100 minutes, 23 seconds into the game. He grabbed a Guy Dupuis shot out of midair, dropped it to the ice and swept it past goaltender Larry Sterling, capturing the sixth playoff championship in 56 seasons of Komets hockey. Hodgman was named playoff MVP. The Komets outshot the Icehawks 60-36 in front of a sellout crowd of 10,462.